Know Who You Are: When God Gazes At You, Who Does God See?

In Delphi, in ancient Greece, at a famous pagan temple these words were carved above the entrance: γνῶθι σεαυτόν (Gnothi Seauton), which in English means "Know Yourself." It's a universal spiritual principle, not just something the Greeks thought up.For example, in 12-Step Programs, the first step to recovery involves admitting to yourself that addiction has made your life unmanageable. Without that self-knowledge, the rest of the program is a non-starter.In the Bible, St. Paul makes this … [Read more...]

Philippians 2 and the Heart Sūtra

One of my favorite passages in the New Testament is the hymn found in Philippians 2:5-11:Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God,    did not regard equality with God    as something to be exploited,but emptied himself,    taking the form of a slave,    being born in human likeness.And being found in human form,    he humbled himself    and became obedient to the point of death—    even death on a cross.Therefore God … [Read more...]

Does Union with God mean Losing Your Self?

"If the goal of the contemplative is union with God, does the individual begin to disappear and lose his or her unique self (personality, emotions) in pursuing this goal?"The above question came to me in an email from a reader of this blog. It's a huge question and I'm not sure a single blog post can do it justice. But I'll give it a try.St. Bernard of Clairvaux suggests that the spiritual life encompasses four degrees of love. We begin where most people are: in loving our selves, for … [Read more...]

Creative Conversation Begins with Contemplative Compassion

A friend of mine, who is the executive director of a progressive Christian ministry, told me the story of meeting an activist who identifies as spiritual but not religious. At first, this person wasn't even interested in talking to my friend.He saw a Christian as someone hopelessly irrelevant, part of the problem rather than the solution.Fortunately, my progressive Christian friend was able to communicate one essential detail. "I'm not here to convert you or to argue with you. I'm here … [Read more...]

“They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love” — And These Gifts Make It Possible

One of C.S. Lewis's last, and best, books was called The Four Loves. Drawing from four different Greek words for love, the book celebrates affection, friendship, eros, and charity and considers the moral, ethical, and spiritual dynamics at play in each form of love.As worthy as Lewis's writing might be, I think Jesus offers his own take on "four loves" that considers not the dynamic of love so much as the object of our love. Here are two Biblical passages that illustrate Jesus's four lo … [Read more...]

A Prayer for Contemplatives

O Divine Beloved, you are the source of life and the fountain of all goodness.In the mystery of your silence we recognize who we are, for we are created in your image. You are beautiful, for you are Love. You are wisdom, for you are Truth. We worship you and ask that you restore in us the fullness of your likeness. Forgive us for all the ways that we have failed to embody your love, and heal us so that we may bring your mercy to others.Grant us the grace of discipline in prayer, that we m … [Read more...]